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Return to Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Phoenix, AZ (May 2021)

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The  Boyce Thompson Arboretum  (BTA) in Superior, Arizona is usually a quiet place. This week, however, it made headlines, but not the good kind: On June 7, 2021, the Arboretum was evacuated  because of a raging wildfire nearby. Ultimately, the Arboretum was spared , but the Telegraph Fire had come perilously close to destroying Arizona's largest (392 acres) and oldest botanical garden (opened in 1929). The thought of losing so much history is terrifying, but it's a vivid reminder of how drought and wildfires have become the new normal in much of the West. None of those things were foremost on my mind when I visited the Boyce Thompson Arboretum on May 19, 2021. It hadn't even been on my original itinerary, but I decided to take a more circuitous and scenic route to Tucson and swing by the BTA (see map below). That gave me an opportunity to take a selfie with my old buddies, these golden barrel cacti: Probably the most popular selfie spot in the entire Arboretum! As you can

Echinopsis 'First Light' shining bright

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One of the plants I brought home from my recent Arizona trip  was an Echinopsis hybrid called 'First Light'. I'd seen photos of its spectacular flowers a while ago and had added it to my shopping list. My go-to source, Jeff Moore of Arid Adaptations , only had his propagation stock left—he'd sold dozens in the busy spring season. Fortunately, Bach's Cactus Nursery still had a handful of 5-gallon plants, and I grabbed one with three buds.  I took this photo on June 1, 2021: Echinopsis  'First Light' The following morning, June 2, 2021, the buds opened up: I won't even try to describe the flowers other than to say they're everything I had hoped for. Many cactus flowers are notoriously short-lived, but 'First Light' takes the cake. Twelve hours after they opened, they once again looked like the first photo—closed buds. And now, a few days later, this is what's left: Talk about ephemeral beauty! Fortunately, this hybrid, like many other Echi

Please read if you subscribe to email notifications from Succulents and More

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Effective July 1, 2021, Feedburner, a Google service, will no longer notify email subscribers of new posts on Succulents and More. Like many bloggers, I'm really disappointed because the service worked so well. I have switched to a new service called follow.it but the process hasn't been as seamless as I had hoped. Some of you might have received emails in German or not received anything at all. The language issue has been resolved, but if you don't get an email notification when I publish a new post, please resubscribe at  https://follow.it/succulentsandmore : You will then receive emails that look like this: To prevent your email client from blocking my email notifications, it might be a good idea to add hi@follow.it (the email address my notifications come from) to your list of approved (or “safe”) senders. Instructions for Gmail can be found here . If you've missed any of my recent posts, please visit  Succulents and More  in your browser to catch up. Here are the m

Off the grid in NW Arizona: Jan Emming's spectacular desert garden

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Everybody has a different concept of “remote.” For most people, it simply means away from the built environment or the services they're used to. Others don't stop there; they keep going until they're really  away from it all.  Jan Emming falls in the latter group. Over the last 20+ years, he's turned a 40-acre parcel in northwestern Arizona into what he calls Destination: Forever Ranch , a sustainable-living homestead and desert botanical garden. If I had to describe Jan, I'd be hard pressed to come up with something short and simple. “Renaissance man,” as overused as that term is, comes to mind. With a degree in biology from Colorado State University, Jan is an astute observer of the natural world. He knows as much about animals as he does about plants, and he shares his daily discoveries on Facebook . Jan is a brilliant writer, and his personal website  contains a wealth of articles on a wide range of topics, including pieces about his travels. I'd visited Jan